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Israel kingmaker Lieberman vows unity government as polls open Open in fullscreen

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Israel kingmaker Lieberman vows unity government as polls open

Former defence minister Avigdor Liberman could be the key to forming a coalition [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2019

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Avigdor Lieberman said he will only sit in a wide government that includes Netanyahu's Likud and its main challenger, the centrist Blue and White party.

The potential kingmaker of the Israeli election said on Tuesday he will insist upon a unity government between the two largest factions.

Avigdor Lieberman cast his vote early on Tuesday in his settlement of Nokdim.

Lieberman, a former defence minister and one-time protégé of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, forced Israel's unprecedented second election of the year when he refused to join Netanyahu's coalition government after the previous election in April.

Polls suggest Netanyahu won't be able to form another coalition without Lieberman's support.

Lieberman says there won't be a third round of elections and the parties will have to deal with the "constellation" that emerges from this vote.

He said he will only sit in a wide government that includes Netanyahu's Likud and its main challenger, the centrist Blue and White party.

Israelis have begun voting in an unprecedented repeat election that will decide whether longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power.

Against the prospect of a likely indictment on corruption charges, Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.

He faces a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu's Likud.

Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.

In-depth: The kingmakers in Israeli politics - The ultra-orthodox and the far-right parties

It's the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition following April's vote and dissolved parliament.

Polling stations opened at 7am Tuesday with exit polls expected at the end of the voting day at 10pm. Official results are projected to come in overnight.

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